Freedom

People on this blog accused me of being the last man standing who would defend the Bush Iraq policy. Although this wasn’t true, it would not have bothered me if it were. I kept on saying, “Wait until after the elections to judge.” That time has come.

The elections were nothing short of brilliant. A brief perusal of this blog and major newspapers will show that none of the President's critics expected such an outcome. The numbers were impressive. That millions voted in the face terrorists promising to kill them and their whole families is inspiring. The Iraqi people thrust their collective purple finger into the face of terror.

The aftermath is also better than we could have hoped. As expected, the Shiites won, but the leading party did not win by enough seats to predominate in the writing of the constitution. They will have to reach out to others and they are doing it. The essence of democracy is compromise. Almost immediately Sunnis, who had largely boycotted the vote, indicated that they too wanted to participate in democracy - and the winners were receptive. Whodathunkit.

President Bush just returned from a visit to Europe, where he was well received and got promises of help in Iraq. As for NATO sixteen of the members have troops on the ground. And nearly all of them have senior officers in the NATO training mission in Baghdad. The EU is also kicking in support, as are many individual countries.

The left wing Euro media is clearly shaken. For all their sophistication and worldly demeanor, they just can't understand George W. Bush, or America and evidently not the Middle East either. (Media Tenor analyzed the media after the Iraqi elections. They found that 60% of the Euro comments were negative. In Arab media, they were 60-100% positive.) They were sure Bush would lose the election in November and they were equally sure that the election in Iraq would be a bloody mess. They never thought he would show up in their midst triumphant, but magnanimous on both counts. Last week they resembled American liberals last November. It was like they were punched in the stomach. They were too big to cry, but it hurt too much to laugh. Could it be that the cowboy wasn't so wrong after all?

I have seen this before. In June 1987 Ronald Reagan stood in front of the Berlin Wall and called on the Soviet Union to "tear down this wall." The common folks loved it, but in the salons and seminar rooms across the old continent, the sophisticates laughed at the stupid cowboy. (Cowboy, by the way, is the Euro pejorative for assertive Americans.) Two years later, when the wall came tumbling down, they scrambled to take the credit for predicting it. American power didn't free E. Europe, but American policy helped remove obstacles that allowed the people to free themselves. The Middle East is now at such a crossroads. I hear the same pessimism about Arabs that I heard about Poles and Czechs. "They have no appreciation for democracy." "They prefer the rule of a strong man." Wrong.

I waited until after the elections and they were good. Now we have to wait a little longer, but the corner is turned. People all over the Arab world were amazed by the Iraqi elections. They saw the candidates on their television sets - democracy in the heart of the Arab world. You can't open the prison door a little bit. People want to be free and they will push it open all the way.

Posted by Jack at February 25, 2005 1:33 PM